The House of Representatives’ Committee on Defence has urged the Federal Government led by Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to engage mercenaries to tackle the growing insecurity.
This is as about 750 soldiers lost their lives between the third quarter of 2020 and July 2022, a development some retired generals and security experts described as unacceptable.
Terrorists on the rampage across the country have also attacked about 16 military bases in the last 18 months, fuelling concerns that the military was overstretched and needed to restrategise to deal with the criminals, protect its personnel and tackle the security challenges.
For example, six soldiers of the 93 battalion, Takun, were killed on May 10 when suspected terrorists ambushed a convoy carrying the commanding officer of the Battalion while on his way to Jalingo, the Taraba State capital.
Also, 20 military personnel were killed by terrorists during an attack on a mining firm located in Ajata-Aboki in Gurmana Ward of Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State on June 30, 2022.
The criminals on July 22 attacked some officials of the 7 Guards Battalion of the Nigerian Army Presidential Guards Brigade, killing eight soldiers, including a captain and a lieutenant.
It was also reported that an attack on army checkpoint at Zuma Rock on July 28 left one soldier dead while two others sustained injuries as a result of the gun battle that ensued.
Chairman of Reps committee, Babajimi Benson, in an interview with Sunday PUNCH, stated that the Armed Forces were overstretched as they were now engaged in internal security operations which should have been led by the Nigeria Police Force.
Bensons said the idea was based on his position and the privileged information available to him.
He said, “Everybody knows we have done it before. Every country, even the United States, uses them at one point or the other. I am the Chairman of (House Committee on) Defence and I know what I am talking about.
“The major way we can solve our insecurity problem is to rework the security architecture and I believe that before we can successfully rework it, we need to, in the interim, engage military contractors because you cannot be trying to rework your infrastructure and at the same time be deploying here and there.
“The Armed Forces are in 34 to 35 states doing one operation or the other, and they are stretched thin as we speak.”
He said the Federal Government must continue to seek alternative means of dealing with the insecurity across the country, especially before Nigeria takes delivery of the 12 AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopters ordered from the United States.